Bischof - the contributions of
mine are on purpose not mentioned here with one tiny exception!
Revised on 20.6.2017.
URL of this site: http://www.koek.naturaldyes.de/kilim.studies.html
Kilim studies -how they started...
The following lines
outline that part
of this picture which I want to discuss on a public platform. There is
another part of what I know - but there are many good reasons to
communicate such things by peer-to-peer communication only.
Kilims and village carpets were
nothing new in the Europe of the 70s.
Between 1870 and 1914 a lot of late kilims (made after 1870) came to
Europe, a lot from Turkey. In Germany one used the term „Karamaniye“ as
many came, as gossip wanted to know, from the vicinity of Karaman in
Southern Central Anatolia. Customers used them as home textiles. There
was no such thing like collecting. The weaves were in perfect condition
and „floorable“. To perceive them as textile art was no accepted task.
Even classical carpets were „discovered“ as objects of art as late as
the end of the 19th century.
Then there was a break caused by the
huge turmoils in Europe from
1914-1945. After World War I great amounts of carpets, village carpets,
especially Caucasian ones, and as well (late) flatweaves went from
Europe to the USA for very low prices - out of sight. The economic
recovery in Europe created the room for new activities.
The first kilim exhibition in this
new era, starting with the 70s, was
compiled by Alan Marcuson and Michael Franses:
Kilims; the traditional tapestries of
Turkey. Presented by
The Iranian Arts Association of Ireland at The Douglas Hyde Gallery,
, but a London exhibition (and
catalogue) got to be more prominent:
„The Undiscovered Kilim“. David
Black and Clive Loveless. London
It started with a grotesque
Westerners ethnocentric statement in the
Undiscovered Kilim“. Imagine that unnumberable people in the Near East
and the Balcanies lived then with kilims as part of their usual set of
home textiles and a lot of kilim were still woven at that time. As
those people do not count the kilim was „undiscovered“. May be these
were just practical needs of dealers who wanted to open a new field and
catch the necessary attention for it.
In those years a lot of Western
people started to travel on their
own to Turkey. One may discern 2 groups:
At that time suitable asphalt streets
were rare, most of the townships
in Anatolia could be reached only by stabilized gravel roads, in
Eastern Anatolia even the main roads were like that. Travelling by car,
a must for those who wanted to come to remote places, was time
consuming and uneasy (dust!!!).
those interested in Turkey proper
people who started their trips to Afghanistan and India (cheap
Cannabis, an important motivation then) in Istanbul and passed Turkey
This situation was reflected even in
botany. The famous „Flora of Turkey“ by Davis listed a lot of plants as
endemics, restricted to very small areas. Later, with better roads, one
could easily see that in fact they are wide spread, even ubiquitous.
One example is Datisca cannabina,
a dye plant for yellow, that Harald
Böhmer mistook as an indicator
of a small area in NW-Anatolia,
based on this standard reference book. Later we, KOEK, found out that
it is common in whole Turkey except Thracia and the far North-East. So
this was not a mistake for which Harald
Böhmer was responsible.
Turkey has one huge advantage over
other countries when it comes to
learn about kilims and village rugs: it is relatively easy to access,
even remote places. But only in case one speaks Turksih or travels with
translator, like Josephine Powell
When people started to be interested
in kilims and village rugs they
had these sources to get them:
In the first 3 cases to command
Turkish is essential. In the fourth
case it is adviseable to understand Turkish, but this ability should be
- Buy from established shops in the big cities - touristic centers
did not exist in 1975, more or less, except in Istanbul.
- Buy from traditional furnituring shops allover the country: when
a Turkish middle class or working class couple married one had to buy
furniture and home textiles - each township had at least one such shop. Sometimes they have local antique pieces.
- Buy from villagers or the rare nomadic groups
- Later: buy from newcomers, young guys that spoke foreign
languages, often students to studied just to relief the burden of
joining the army (with a university degree one entered for only 3
months in the rank of an officer), and learned the talents to entertain
tourists. These people had no textile background and often were forced
to learn from their customers.
The latest development is that people that used their textile skills
that they learnt in their own environment, mostly in Central Anatolia
with a focus on Sultanhanı, or around Malatya, to repair carpets and
kilms and started later to open own carpet shops, in Istanbul and at
touristic sites. Some people even in the USA.
After purchasing a kilim or a village
rug people wanted to learn more
about those items. People had objects from a virtually unknown culture
and could not evaluate them with reason.
The only available literature were
Western carpet dealers catalogues
with some text additions and legendary failures in geography. „Sivas,
South Anatolia“ for a soumak cuval from the vicinity of Silifke (at the
mouth of the Göksu river into the Mediterranean seaI remember
well. It continues until today. In addition they were overloaded
with carpet dealers fairy tales.
girl had to weave her dowry textiles alone as a test for her ability
and talents. Nonsense: she had to have a dowry. If her family was rich
enough one bought the necessary set of yastiks from weaving centres.
the big white ground
kilims were made for the funeral and later given to the local mosque.
To continue: village and nomadic women were masters of making natural
dyes in the good old times. Not true. Sometimes, but as an exception,
village women heated wool with alum and then is some plant decoctions.
In very small amounts Indigo vatting with urine was applied in
villages. Normally the persons who did the dyes were professionals:
persons who earned their living from making the dyes, in most cases
stationary, located in the townships or rarely in villages that were
specialized on sheep breeding. In Anatolia Armenians were famous for
making the dyes, Central Anatolia being no exemption.
It is not the blame of the trade. It
functioned in finding suitable pieces for the clients. To publish books
with a scientific demand, but without any field research, about
non-European weaving art was beyond its capability. So one has merely
picture catalogues with some more or unless unrelated text stuff
(„Kilim as art“, Neolithic pottery and its motives, etc.) or, even
worse, just some romantic tapitological „thoughts“ about those weaves.
The empirical phase
Asking the friendly dealer the next
time did not help. As those dealers
of above given group 4 had erected a kind of rubber wall against any
„intruder“ in order to protect their sources. At about 1980 it was
easily possible in Central Anatolia to purchase nice antique kilims
from stocks in private houses and it would have been possible to notice
even the quarter (mahalle) of a township where the source was. This is
important as often tribal groups who settled in the 19th century there
had the habit to stick together in such a mahalle. Fragments of kilims
or village rugs one could not get from private people: they were
ashamed of it. A fragment was for them a textile that cannot be used
any longer, has no value then and it would have been a shame to charge
money for it. So fragments were introduced into the „foreigners market“
between 1980 and 1985, not earlier, and were significantly cheaper than
complete pieces in the so called „German condition“.
The business in big scale was done
with intermediate people, so called
„pickers“. These men regularly checked the available pieces in their
„district“ and then moved the merchandize to selected dealers. The
competition aimed for motivation of those pickers to come first to the
own shop, where the whole bundle could be examined, the primary
selection be made. And one could advice the picker to which dealers he
might move with the rest of this bundle, and in which row. The „art“ of
this business is never ever to let the picker learn about the real
value of certain pieces. So one always buys a mixed lot with a price
for the total thing. In most cases late, complete, useable pieces where
higher paid than important early fragment pieces. In any case it is the
picker who definitely knows from which place a certain piece came from.
Other sources than buying from private houses I will not discuss
The only thing important to know is that these sources as well could
theoretically keep the information about the original place where the
textile was picked up.
In this situation people who were
interested in obtaining a better
understanding these textiles, with the hope one later day to establish
a corpus of knowledge sufficient to sustain their perception as art,
were forced to try this on their own.
My own decision
was: in order to look
behind this rubber wall it is necessary to be a part of this
„structure“, an insider. So I continued to travel the whole country to
collect informations. But anything related to purchase and sell items I
did with a Turkish partner.
Other people did the same with
another perspective, like the mentioned Josephine Powell, whome I visited
several times in a year to exchange results. Harald Böhmer did the same, often
together with Josephine. Belkis Acar
(later Balpinar) and Udo Hirsch collected empirical
evidence where they could. As a result the Vakiflar Museums kilim and
carpet catalogues arose. Both not just picture books: the location of
pictured pieces was given and suggestions about the groups that might
have created the piece were given. Important: this was in the
„empirical“ phase of their work.
In Bergama there was a years long
excavation program done with the help
of German institutions. Two women who were engaged there who used their
free time to travel to areas in NW-Anatolia, moved from village to
village, photographed and recorded details they got to know from the
villagers, focussing on different flatwoven textiles of formal tribal
people there. The book was compiled with the help of Eberhart Ammermann
( †2017) , a great collector with many travels to Turkey.
Steiner, Elisabeth; Pinkwart, Doris; Ammermann, Eberhart (2014).
Bergama Heybe ve Torba: Traditional bags of the Yürüks in Northwest
Anatolia, Observations from 1970 to 2007 / Traditionelle Taschen der
Yürüken Nordwest-Anatoliens. Beobachtungen in den Jahren zwischen 1970
bis 2007 (in German, English, and Turkish). ISBN 9783000446191.
It is for me one of the highlights of
field research in Anatolia. In a
short summary it is not possible to mention all names involved in this
type of research at the spot, focussing on empirical evidence. Such
studies go on until today.
status at about 1990 can be summarized like this:
Kilim weaving is not uniquely distributed in Anatolia. There are
„gravity centers“. At those areas Turcoman tribes have been settled in
the 18th and 19th century or in different „waves“ before. With the
sedentarization the textiles changed. Where people are settled more
than ca. 150 years the kilims were adapted for use in a house rather
than in a tent. Where this sedentarization happened early, end of 16th
century (Yukari Sakarya Yayla, along the Kızılirmak, for example) one
can find very early big and heavy kilims to be used in a house. - So
all research points to those people that were closest to the sheep and
the ones who handled first their products.
And this means for pursueing kilim and village rug studies:
1. Find those groups
2. Research their movements in history
3. Study their material culture and their socio-cultural environment
4. Research the technical elements of weaves: yarn making, dyeing,
weaving technques and structures
5. Find out for what purpose the weaves in question were made for
6. Study and compare the distribution of their „imagery“ (motives and
- and then finally discuss
critically whether these weaves are „art“ and what measures might be
applied for grading them according to their artistical merits.
The proposed approach tries to understand kilims and village rugs from
the process of its creation and focusses on the people who created
them. Opposite to the demand to instantly interprete the left-over
residues from some „general arts“ point of view.
Example given (whether it is
invented or real is not topic of this essay)
In the wider Konya plain different Turcoman nomadic groups settled from
1820 - 1880. One particular village was founded in 1865. Of course
people built a mosque and donated suitable textiles at various events
to it. Now, in 2017, the community decides to sell all old items in
order to repair the building and buy newer cheap ready fabrics to
substitute them. - One has the chance to document the whole inventory,
the majority kilims, followed by some zilis, few carpets. The oldest
pieces are about 2 generations older than the foundation date of the
mosque. The life span of such textiles used in a nomadic environment is
not longer. Scholars may do ethnographic research, find out which
groups founded this village, look in old Ottoman archives, study which
skills are left... in this case a cerain kilim, as it is, not washed,
may be called a A piece
according to the „integrity“ of its know „fate“. If a piece from this
convolut is sold into the trade, some cheap uneducated personnel in a
wash house damaged it but still its origin is known we may call it a
If it did not sell quick, the knowledge of its origin is lost, the
piece is now called „Karapınar“ as this is a better „trade mark“, after
it was moved a lot in the maelstrom of the trade and finally 2-3 „late“
colours were exchanged with yarn from kilim residues (söküntü) -
then we call it a C piece.
If some dealer cry we just learn to know their voice.
In the beginning of the 80 s there
was strong demand for great kilims
and heavy competition between advanced collectors. It started to be
possible to sell even fragments. The drive was towards „the earlier the
better“. The prices sky-rocketed. But the dream objects were still not
sufficiently studied. It was a period of „primary accumulation“ and the
prevalent mood was that of gold prospecting. The phrase of the period
was most likely „top piece“. But how to select the top piece amongst
others if there are no criteria, as there is no valid corpus of
results and no settled status in the art sciences?
As kilims were fashionable a growing
amount of dealers entered the
field. The pioneering dealer figures (David Black, Clive Loveless,
Franses, Alan Marcuson, Jack Cassin, Bertram Frauenknecht, Klaus
Frantz, Gery Muse)
got companionship. There was heavy traffic to Turkey from dealers and
also from leading collectors, both dreaming of buying from „the
source“, mostly to some shops in Istanbul and Konya.
could be more wrong than calling this „buying from the source“.
The amount of
materials that local dealers could get by collecting them in villages
at the spot was limited, especially for Istanbul based dealers. The
whole „system“ depended on pickers who travelled those areas and
offered their findings then in a certain row to those dealers. Where a
certain textile faced the surface was therefore known in each case,
especially with the more important findings. In few cases leading
collectors were admitted to visit the real sources.
guys in between had to be motived by the perspective to earn good money
with early, often battered kilims, especially with fragments. The first
kick off an
avalanche by buying totally
battered fragments was Herwig Bartels, quite well before
him all the mentioned pioneering dealers owe gratefulness. Without his
impact they would not have got later early pieces, plus, important to
mention that: a big lot of pieces that were not early but just looked
so. As a prominent collector later put it: hippie dealers with 5
minutes knowledge advance over their customers. No wonder: if one does
not know the country, the background, the basics of making weaves and
even the language to communicate at the spot there are no standards to
evaluate what has been found, except the happenstance impression of
„somehow early“, which rules the market until today. 
As a result there many people who
frequently travelled to Turkey but
never had the opportunity to explore the country, not to mention doing
field research. The „knowledge“ was limited to some shops. Though
nearly everybody in the trade romanticzed nomads only Josephine Powell
and Harald Böhmer tried serious field work at the spot.
While the hunt for the „hardware“ was
hefty there was a serious lack of
„software“ for interpreting and grading the items found. A kind of
unhealthy tension between both could be sensed. The need for some new
ideas was kind of „in the air“. One should understand in addition that
there was a smooth transition between „scholars“ and „dealers“ in this
There was a demand for some fresh
ideas that would fit to the real
knowledge status of mentioned groups and required not more than
studying the found artifacts as they were plus read some books. No
field work, no learning of the basics (wool, yarn making, dye making,
historical geography, ethnography). Exciting, but vague. Sounding
scientifical, but communicable to the customers.
The era of bold
In this situaton some publications
got a lot of international
James Mellaart, Udo Hirsch, Belkis
The goddess from Anatolia. Milano
1989, Eskenazi,. Vol. 1-4
- A critique by Martha
- this refers mainly to the problem whether the cited artefacts are
genuine. It is no intellectual dissection of the underlying concept.
The basic claim is: these kilims are
of Anatolian neolithic origin.
This particular tradition survived in remote areas of Anatolia some
thousands of years and was at the end copied by later arrivals in
Turkey. The real artists are the „yerli“, the settled part of the
population, the Turcoman nomadic people have just an epigonic relation
to this äons old magical textile art.
To shorten a long journey: the
authors and their fanboys were never
able to present factual evidence for this „theory“. Some convincing
similarities do not help at all. For an evolution type of hypothesis
one has to prove an uninterrupted chain of pieces of evidence. It
contradicts the above shown geographical and ethnical distribution of
weaving in Turkey. Udo Hirsch and Belkis Balpinar know it. This mother
goddess hypothesis is a 180° turn to their own previous field work.
Therefore Josephine Powell, among many authors, rejected it as being a
construct invented for heating kilim sales.
Our contribution to this debate:
At about 1990, in the middle of this heated debate, we arrange a
workshop event in the house of Anette Rautenstengel, arranged by
the „Teppichfreunde Nordrhein-Westfalen“, Chairman Dietmar Pelz, to
present our view.
„Our“ means: 2 students, one of Turkology and Ethnography, one of
Geography, speaking Turkish, with several longer experiences in
Anatolia including lengthy contacts to village women, who could comb
and spin the wool, and me.
Jasmin Hofmacher, Michaela Kühnert and
I have developed a total different hypothesis about the origin of those
„motives“, but this will not be illustrated here: these motives are
ideograms stemming from the neolithic introduction of agriculture and
are nearly worldwide distributed. My contribution was analysis of
designs including some ad-hoc-demonstations plus. The audience got
suprised when I stated that and why results of the upcoming
neurobiological explanations for recognizing patterns would be
unavoidable in textile art research. That was 1990. Sometimes one has
to wait quite long till prophecies come true, so to say, but as of
13.6.2017 one may have a look here:
- to see the latest progress in that area.
Cassin, Jack: Image Idol Symbol: Ancient Anatolian Kilims. New York:
Jack Cassin, 1989.
A very nicely produced opus in 2 volumes about 9 kilims, of which 5 or
6 are indeed early kilims. It was impossible for me to review it as at
no single spot there is a statement that is definite and nails down the
authors opinion. It is a kind of parody of art dealers argot: „...if
one sees this motive .... and compares it with this... then one might
feel tempted to compare it with...“, this type of bla bla. More or less
the authors mind flies in the direction of Mellaart/Hirsch/Balpinar.
The pestiferous use of the term „iconographic“ without a single proof
makes the handsome booklet difficult to digest and enjoy.
The author Jack Cassin now, in private mails to this author from
20.6.2017, puts the following claims:
The second part I do not buy. That in
1981, when Jack Cassin went first
to Turkey, Bertram Frauenknecht could have been his student is a
ridiculous megalomaniac claim to me. Though both persons most likely
have been at the begin of their learning curve concerning Anatolian
kilims then. Frauenknecht most likely being slightly ahead, as he had
published Anatolian Prayer Kilims in 1978. As I was a beginner in
1981, by the way. - The other claims I will not comment.
This whole bulk of „theories“ claiming an uninterrupted descent of the
basic kilim motives within Anatolia from the Anatolian Neolithic is at
no point (as of today) substantiated and restricted to compare
similiarities which is outright childish. Example: I leave the
house in Augsburg in Southern Germany on clear weather and see the
Alpine mountains. Most of them appear as a triangle. So the proof is
there that the people who erected the pyramides were from Augsburg?
Therefore I find it absolutely unimportant who once got the first
(nonsense) thought of it? Cassin? Bartels? Mellaart? Hirsch? Rageth?
- About Herwig Bartels: „He used my information and presented it
publicly without even mentioning he got it from me.“ Information means
in this context the idea that the motives of kilims were developed
within Anatolia proper.
- Bertram Frauenknecht was his student and he, Cassin, introduced
him to Mellaart. He was also the person who selected the best pieces in
the Frauenknecht book of that time.
- „My book IMAGE IDOL SYMBOL was published many months before the
GODDESS FROM ANATOLIA, and I was the person who organized and started
Mellaart, Balpinar and Hirsch to write that book.“
The inherent trouble with such a
scheme is not even mentioned. 
The proposed schema of periodication
(archetype, classic period,
commercial period etc.)
an aspect that got a warm welcome from dealers. Understandably! The
antique dealers desperatedly need a „scientifically“ sounding serious
statement that all really good weaves stopped to occur after a certain
date so excellence can be found only - with them. Uninformed themselves
nobody cried alarm when in the discussion of nomadic flatweaves the
term „commercial period“ was proposed. Which is utter nonsense: most
likely many member of such communities worked sometime in the frame
of producing commercial (made for sale) rugs as yarn makers
or weavers but these collectible kilims, zilis, cuvals etc. were simply
made for their own material culture and used within that, never ever
made for to be sold.
The whole thing with these
publications boiled down to a kind of
advanced marketing effort to sell those textiles: the books, the
(Internet only!) artificial „Weaving Art Museum“, not for sale but
offered several times in reality, the same schmock that most collectors know from some
dealers. „Not for sale - my private collection“ type of entertainment.
As these „bold theories“ could never
find further substantiation, we
all just learnt that making weaves is much older than previously
thought, they had no lasting effect on kilim studies after a lot of hot
The stimulus had no happy end, the
discussion never had a result on
all sides agreed, it just rot off.
 Some of those pieces are not yet
As the necessary basic skills for
such weaves are still available in
Anatolia the proof of the pudding (of the concept that I favour) would
be to create some replicas sensu strictu, so good that people would
accept that the „process of creating“ is sufficiently understood.
Whether it is art or not remains an
eternal question. As „art“ should
always have some secret or „magic“.
 In order to set
up a meaningful periodization scheme
has to sort known kilims according to their age, as it was determined
by scientifical means (C14 dating, indicator dyes) and add
auxilliary information about them (where was it found? Which groups
inhabited that place at what time?) into it. In other terms: a calibration tool. All further
interpretations depend totally on the reliability of this time
After this is done one can start to
analyse the historical evolution
of single motives and try to build up universally valid conclusions,
for underlying patterns in the use of colours etc. , always in
accordance with this calibration tool.
By the way: no one knows today how old
weft-faced flatweaves are,
whether they started at a certain area or whether they were invented
anew, independant from each other, in different regions. With
confidence one can say in 2017 that those Anatolian kilims (and similar
weaves) of nomadic origin represent only a small section of woollen
flatweaves. Their historical origin is still unknown. After getting
settled this traditon weakened and stopped completely with the
mechanization of agriculture in Turkey, 1970 ff.
The capital punishment in many cases is to cite somebody without any
alteration so he would have to admit: this is me in my own language.
Jack Cassin has today written 2 private mails to claim corrections to
the above written text - and he has given to me the permission to
publish them. I will not further comment it.
you seem to have a serious
problem with telling the truth,
and double that for anything about me:
1. you did not include me in the
'pioneering figures you list
which is ridiculous, as i started GARRY Muse off in dealing REAL
GENUINE early kelims. He learned from me so at least get it
straight. Plus I was instrumental in marcuson's knowledge and
introduced him to Muse and they then became partners.
2. I met frauenknecht in 1980 in the
textile museum ICOC in
Washington and he slept on the couch in my suite at the hotel so he
could hang out with me and learn about kelim and early rugs. The
collection he published in the prayer kelim book belonged to stolp
fraser but so what there is not one early piece in there. So
frauenknecht, like muse, owe their beginning in the Anatolian kelim
game to me.
I sent you the signed frauenknecht
black book title page where he
wrote "TO JACK CASSIN FRIEND AND TEACHER" so quit your nonsense and
tell the truth if you are going to bother to tell it at all. I do not
need you to sing my praises but if you are going to mention me do it
honestly and truthfully. I am resending the frauenknecht book page jpg.
3 IMAGE IDOL SYMBOL: it is NOT about 9
kelim it is 9 kelims, why
4. And what do not you buy? i sent
you, and am resending, the
autographed front page of the Goddess from Anatolia where Mellaart
wrote "TO JACK CASSIN WHO STARTED IT ALL" i was the publisher and
organized the project. I already wrote you what I decdied to do and
why, so quit the bullshit, bischof, and tell the truth, not some
fractured fairy tale or backhanded bullshit like you did now and
continue to do.
5. Need more proof? go call
frauenknecht and ask him whose idea
that little back book was, and who picked the best pieces. And why he
wrote I was his teacher?
you always act poorly, so is it any
surprise why i do not treat
go change what you again falsify...you
constantly accuse me of
lying and never prove it but YOU are lying all the time and I prove it
straighten up, pup, for the last time"
„bartels had no early kelim before 1980
my collection was already in my hands
you are full of shit bitchoff, you are
jackhater and a moron
you lie about me every
opportunity you get
fuck you , your mother and your sisters
you are a dumb bastard and when i am
thru with you
no one will even bother to read your
shit, even the few
idiots who do now
got that, douchebag
There was an „event“ on 29.6.-2.7.2017 on the Facebook platforms „Warp
and Weft...“ and on „Kilim“. Jack Cassin had approached me claiming
foul play and censorship had ocurred in the Internet and proposed that
I should publish on Warp and Weft... and on Kilim his supressed opion
piece about shady dealings at LACMA. I agreed under the condition
that I will not be party in this conflict and just help out
against censorship. When it was done he immediately returned to his
well known style of ranting into ad hominem comments, which created a
kind of disgusting freak show. Nobody commented on the issue itself. So
I stopped further comments. In the following conflict with him he
simply lied about what has happened: http://www.rugkazbah.com/boards/records.php?id=2914&refnum=2914
So I stopped any further contact. - He complained bitterly how his real
role in the discovery of early kilims was reported wrongl, his
importance understated and belittled in this text. If he finds a friend
or middle man and is able to deliver through him to me a text that is
not just ranting I am ready to place this text here as a not too long